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Frequency, Time Period and Amount of Breastfeeds

How often should I breastfeed my baby

You should breastfeed your baby whenever she is hungry. This is called demand feeding (as opposed to fixed time feeding, say every 3 hours).  However, in order to follow this pattern, you should know that every time your child cries, it is not because of hunger.  Otherwise, you could be breastfeeding your child endlessly.   

My baby keeps crying all the time, is she hungry

Breast milk is easily digested and so the baby needs to be fed more often than her formula-fed counterpart. However, this does not mean that breastfeeding is the solution to all your baby's problems. If she begins to wail soon after a feed, keep in mind that she may have a wet nappy, be feeling hot or cold, or just feel the need to be burped or cuddled. If you have ruled out all these possibilities, and she continues to cry, then feed her.

How long should a single feed last

This depends entirely on the baby. Some babies finish feeding in five minutes, while others can take as long as twenty minutes. There is no norm for how long a feed should last. Remember that slow or fast, babies ingest the same amount of milk. Do not try to hurry a slow feeder. Some babies may appear to be asleep, but will begin to suckle as soon as the mother tries to move them away from the breast. Let the baby take her time so she gets enough milk, including the rich hindmilk so necessary for her energy levels.  

Should I offer both breasts or only one breast

Babies need both foremilk (rich in protein, lactose, vitamins, minerals and water) and hindmilk (rich in fat). Foremilk quenches his thirst and hindmilk provides fat and calories.  That is why it is important that the baby be allowed to keep suckling from one side till he gets the hindmilk and leaves the breast on his own. Only then should he be offered the other breast.  Babies allowed such freedom often get satisfied by suckling only from one side.  Remember that you should alternate the side that you first offer with each feed to ensure that you get an even supply of milk from both your breasts.

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